President Xi Jinping on Monday pledged to widen access to China´s economy, while delivering a veiled rebuke to Trumpism, as he kicked off an import fair amid growing foreign accusations his government was backtracking on grand reform promises.
Mr Xi's comments come as China and the USA have hit each other with new trade tariffs worth around $360bn (£280bn) in total, as well as amid heightened tensions with some of China's other trading partners.
"Economic globalization is facing setbacks, multilateralism and the free trade system is under attack, factors of instability and uncertainty are numerous, and risks and obstacles are increasing", President Xi said in his speech.
China is taking solid steps to expand financial opening-up, continue to advance opening-up in the service sector, deepen opening-up in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and accelerate the opening-up process of sectors including telecommunications, education, medical treatment and culture, Xi said. Last year, China imported $1.84 trillion in goods and $458 billion in services.
Speaking in Singapore on Tuesday, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, who is close to Xi, reiterated China's readiness to hold discussions and work with the United States to resolve trade disputes as the world's two largest economies stand to lose from confrontation.
Xi has said the expo proves China is willing to reduce its huge trade surpluses with other countries, but it is not known whether he will unveil new trade or liberalisation initiatives in Shanghai. In marine products, exports to China were $161 million out of total exports of $7.4 billion, a minuscule share of 2.17%.
Expectations had been low that Xi would announce bold new policies of the kind that many foreign governments and businesses have been seeking from Beijing.
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The trade war saw U.S. crude oil shipments to China stop completely in October, and China slapped a 10% tariff on LNG in September.
Some 3,000 firms and dozens of official delegations from around the world - including Britain's Prince Andrew, El Salvador's President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev - are attending China's import expo.
India too has been pressuring China to take measures to bring down over United States dollars 51 billion annual trade deficit, which was one of the main focus areas in the informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in April this year.
The European Union, which shares USA complaints of Chinese trade policy although it is against the Trump administration's hardball tactics of applying tariffs, has called for Beijing to open its market. The Swiss government said in a statement to Reuters on Sunday that his visit had never been confirmed.
It said that Secretary of State Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch would represent Switzerland. Companies from all the G20 member states and 58 countries along the Belt and Road, as well as more than 30 of the world's 44 least developed countries, will send exhibitors to the event.
Some countries, like Kenya, even have national exhibitions at the event in an effort to win interest in their products and improve ties. Iran, saffron. Jamaica will be marketing it's famed blue mountain coffee and Chad is selling bauxite.
Chad would be selling its bauxite and tiny São Tomé would sell package holidays.